July 2, 2001 - The body of Yair Har Sinai, 51, of Susiya in
Yair Har Sinai left his home on Monday morning with his flock
Har Sinai had been a shepherd for the last 19 years and was
Yair Har Sinai (born Essenheim) grew up on Kibbutz Kfar
A neighbour described Yair Har Sinai Ya'ir as a unique figure in
Yair Har Sinai was buried in Susiya. He is survived by his wife,
| After Israeli forces liberated the remainder of Judea in the
miraculous Six Day War, Yochanan Ben Yaakov was part of a group of
Jews who explored the south Hebron hills in southern Judea to search
for traces of their Jewish past. They found Jewish synagogues in
Eshtemoa, Yatta, and Carmel. Indeed, in Yatta, one of the two major
Arab clans described their
own Jewish roots. In winter they would buy candles from the Jews in Hebron and light them for eight days. They refused to eat camel, a common (non-kosher) delicacy, and would not intermarry with the other clan in the village.
The efforts of Yochanan and his group led to a revision of our knowledge
of Jewish history in southern Judea. After the Bar Kochba rebellion
was crushed by the Romans in the 2nd century and Jews were banned
from Jerusalem, it had been thought that most of the remnant who remained
in Eretz Israel made their way northward to the Galilee. Yet the new
The Arabs know that the Jews have returned to reclaim their birthright and their inheritance. They know that Judea is Jewish land, the heart of the Land of Israel.
How Reporters were Forced to
After two weeks of screaming headlines that proclaimed "Massacre in
Jenin!", the news story from Jenin is slowly emerging. This follows the
decision of the IDF to allow representatives of the Israeli and foreign
press to enter Jenin on Sunday April 14th, for the first time since the
fierce battle between the IDF and terrorist cells in Jenin began.
Among the first reporters allowed into Jenin were Serge Schmemann and
Joel Greenberg from The New York Times, who reported: "With rumours swirling
of massacres and mass
What today's visit to the camp showed was more destruction than death, since deaths that can be verified right away."
In a press briefing last week, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said: "There wasn't a house that wasn't booby-trapped and there was no way to neutralize the danger without demolishing the structure.
"We also encountered booby-trapped men, Palestinians who raised their hands to surrender while wearing explosive vests, in an attempt to detonate themselves among our soldiers. It was a very bitter combat. We lost 23 soldiers, which indicates that this was a difficult operation, in which the Palestinians did their maximum to inflict as many casualties as they could."
"The Israel Defence forces received clear instructions to avoid harming civilians, and that is exactly what they did," Peres stated.
Yet the fact that for almost two weeks no reporter - Israeli or foreign -was allowed into the refuge camp to give a first hand account of what was really going on only served to fuel the tales of horror, which spread like wildfire. According to Israeli officials, the reason for the refusal to allow the media into Jenin until the fighting ended was fear for their safety since booby trapped explosives were scattered everywhere.
Col. Gal Hirsh, Head of Operations in the IDF Central Command, explained
that Jenin was a maintained as a closed military zone even after the the
fighting was over. "We are
The PLO's WAFA press service took advantage of Israel's refusal to allow
the media in to Jenin, declaring that the number of killed Palestinians
was 500; they said that bodies were
Organizations such as Physicians for Human Rights and Amnesty International
took the PLO at its word and joined the chorus of groups that alleged that
Israel had conducted
For two weeks, media outlets throughout the world devoted huge amounts
of ink to unverified tales of conspiracies, rapes, executions, mass murders,
and mutilations. The credibility of Palestinian "eyewitness testimony"
was barely questioned -despite the PLO track record of fabricating claims.
In Lebanon, back in June 1982, the Red Crescent made the fallacious claim
that the IDF had killed 10,000 people and made 600,000 homeless.
Tens of European media outlets and Arab foreign ministries described the fighting in Jenin in terms of "genocide," "unprecedented humanitarian disaster," "Sabra and Shatilla #2," "a campaign of revenge and murder," and "Nazi ethnical cleansing."
European media focused on the physical damage to buildings due to Israeli
tanks moving through the camp, and failed to mention the fact that many
of the buildings and streets were
Since the media moralizes about the ethics of the IDF operating in a heavily populated UNRWA refugee camp, why do they not question the morality of armed members of the PLO, who are wanted by the IDF, using residential dwellings in the camp as places of refuge in the first place? No reporter even raises the issue of whether it is appropriate for a United Nations organization to allow armed personnel to use their facilities. When we called UNRWA, their public affairs spokesman acknowledged that the PLO's army is indeed based in the UNRWA refugee camps, something which he had little problem with.
The British Press in particular printed unsubstantiated and unverified
reports of what took place in Jenin. The British newspaper, The Independent,
called what was happening in
By contrast, the American press was generally more balanced in reporting
from Jenin, though there were some reports like the one from James Bennet,
writing for The New York Times, who reported: "Palestinians here describe
bodies cut in pieces, bodies scooped up by bulldozers and buried in mass
graves, bodies deliberately concealed under collapsed buildings. They describe
people drinking out of sewers and people used by
In contrast, T. Christian Miller of the LA Times writes that Palestinian
"accounts, which could not be independently confirmed, painted a picture
of a vicious house-to-house battle
And Washington Post correspondent Molly Moore wrote: "Interviews with
residents inside the camp and international aid workers who were allowed
here for the first time today
Yet Israel's comments on what was actually happening at the UNWRA Jenin refuge camp were for the most part ignored by world media.
In a press briefing on April 12th, 2002, Mr. Danny Ayalon, the foreign
policy advisor to the Israeli prime minister, dismissed Palestinian reports
of putting Palestinian dead bodies
A statement from Defence Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said: "Alongside
the defence activities, we have to undertake an explanatory effort regarding
Jenin to stop the flow of rumours. We check the figures well, and the number
of those killed in Jenin stands at dozens and not hundreds, and the great
majority of them were armed men who shot at our forces.
In a briefing held on April 12 th 2002, Col. Gal Hirsh- Head of Operations in the Central Command said: "When you think of the term refugee camp, you think of poor and helpless people. This is not the case! Jenin Refugee Camp was a strong combat zone. Do not think of Jenin Refugee Camp as the model of a refugee camp but as a real military and terrorist infrastructure. These people decided to fight, and we had to fight back.
"I've heard the rumours of 500-600 Palestinians dead. These are lies. We had no choice but to destroy the terrorist infrastructure- everyday there were terrorist acts dispatched from Jenin Refugee Camp. The operation in Jenin cost us the lives of 23 soldiers and many were injured. I regret that some Palestinian civilians were injured and some were killed. We were fighting against armed terrorists. We asked the Palestinian civilians to evacuate their homes so they would not get hurt, some chose not to. Most of the Palestinians that were killed were armed terrorists; many had explosive devices strapped to their bodies. We found a lot of evidence of terrorist activity, for example, labs for explosive devices. We are talking about an organized terrorist infrastructure throughout Judea and Samaria."
The first eyewitnesses from outside of the Jenin refuge camp were able
to see for themselves the destruction and devastation that came from the
fierce fighting that took place in the camp and the grim results of the
terrorists' booby trapping their own houses, bodies, cars, and streets
with vast amounts of explosives which reduced the refuge camp
No mass graves were uncovered; the number of Palestinians killed in the battle has been reduced by all the media to dozens as opposed to the reported hundreds.
So there you have it. The media was forced to cope with the fact that
an alleged massacre was turned into a few dozen casualties. Some reporters
just could not bring themselves to
Better luck next "massacre."